Did you clean your whole house today and it is already dirty? Me too. Did you marvel at the way your belly is now a coffee table for your morning joe? That's me! Make an entire dinner that took an hour and your toddler threw it on the floor, walls, and to the dog? I'm there!
Over the past few weeks, I've received encouragement from the most likely and unlikely motherhood cheerleaders. I thought I'd share with you in case you needed a cheering squad too. Over the next few posts, I'll feature some mama pom poms.
First one? The Bible. SHOCKER. When your childhood is spent in Sunday School, you have all kinds of Bible phrases in your head that are swimming around with no reference for them. For the past two weeks, I haven't been able to get the phrase, "For the joy set before us" out of my head. Turns out, it comes from Hebrews 12:1-2.
Mamas, I've heard this verse a bazillion times, but my oatmeal heart heard it for the first time this week. First of all, we are surrounded by witnesses who have stood all kinds of tests for Christ. In Hebrews 11, God outlines every character and story worth knowing in the Bible to prove not what great heroes they are, but what awesome work God did THROUGH them. In each of their stories, they witnessed to the story and person of Jesus. While listening to a podcast on this verse by Jen Wilkin, she remarks that every new mama thinks she is the only one who has ever done this before. I smile because I'm sure that was me, and still is sometimes. We ask ourselves, "HOW DO WOMEN DO THIS ALL THE TIME? MULTIPLE TIMES?" But we have SO MANY mothers all around us who prove not only that we can do it, but many who testify what God has given them the strength to! And if you can't find a single one of them to find encouragement from, look at Hebrews 11. Look at the beautiful testimonies of God bringing his people through trials for his glory!
Second, the verse says, "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that clings so closely." God, you are telling this 26 week pregnant woman to lay aside every weight? Um, sorry, but it is not possible for me to disengage my growing torso at the moment. I feel heavy, ya'll. My feet hurt at the end of the day. My clothes are fitting all kinds of awkward. I'm not weighing myself anymore because that is dangerous. I feel huge, elephant style.
But you know what is heavier? The thoughts of "not good enough" and "I wish people would stop looking at me" and "I'm not doing any lasting good for anybody in this world." Those thoughts? Crushing. Those thoughts? Self-focused, and clingy, like wet clothes, like superglue, like the crayon stains on my walls. And Jesus says, you know what? Throw that off. In fact, I'll take it off for you. Jesus came to free us mamas, from those thoughts, from our own sin and selfishness.
Let us run the race with endurance, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter our faith. Woah, slow down. I haven't run since the first trimester, Lord. Motherhood is all about endurance. I have a friend that counted the hours of the day when her husband was away for work. 14 hours. 14 hours in a mommy day. I've begged her not to count, more because the counting of all things drives me insane, reminds me I can't get a break either. As mothers, the races set before us can be the waiting until naptime, the end of this pregnancy, the end of this ear infection, until they finish potty training, until preschool, until college, until...forever.
But we don't look to the clock, do we? We look to Jesus, who started our faith and whose job it is to perfect it. It isn't my job to do it all right, to count the hours, to count my failures or my successes. Praise the Lord! When we are looking to Jesus, even the most tired, swollen, about to deliver preggo can RUN, because our burden is lifted. He has already thrown off the weight, the sin, and HE is the one doing all the work. He is our mama acceleration, inertia, the tennis shoes to pavement. He has equipped us to endure, because he has equipped us with himself.
Who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. There it is, except it isn't "the joy set before us" it was "for the joy set before him." Remember when I said I hated counting? I once based my life on counting calories and it almost killed me. In the Bible, the only place I remember counting was in James 1:2-4 "Count it all joy, my brothers (sisters), when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." Ladies, Jesus met his death, the ultimate trial, and counted it joy because he knew what that sacrifice would give us, would give me. And because I've been given life in him, and because he is before me in this race, I can also have joy. Just think, what joy could be possible if you didn't carry the weight of your responsibilities or the weight of your sin. Just think if you had a perfect, steadfast Savior that could run this race for you? Wouldn't that give you JOY?
How many times as a mother have I wished that someone else could carry it for me? Could carry Titus? Could carry Matthias? Could just feed them one time, clean up after them, take them to a doctor's apt, change their diapers? How many times have I begrudged the next task because I wasn't aware that Jesus freed me from the doing, the counting, the carrying.
I have been praying for joy. Joy for the fall when I know things will be hard. Joy for the now when they already feel too heavy. Yet here, God tells me Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before him. So, for the joy set before me, I can RUN, today, tomorrow, and every day until I die. I can mother with joy because Jesus is in me and before me.
Jesus makes it possible for me to mother with endurance and joy. Jesus makes it possible for me to love my husband with endurance and joy. Jesus makes it possible for me to see myself as he made me, a mother, a wife, and a woman, his enduring and joyful treasure.
My pom pom for you mom? In Jesus, you can endure. In Jesus, you can have joy. In Jesus, you are a treasure. Let's run the race, shall we?